Councillor Malcolm King, axed from a lead member position last week, compares alleged attempts to ‘silence’ those with concerns in Wrexham Council to those who protected Jimmy Saville and Rolf Harris.
Last week Councillor King, who had been tasked with fronting millions of pounds worth of budgetary cuts, was stripped of his role as Lead Member for Policy, Finance, Performance and Governance by Wrexham Council Leader Neil Roger.
The decision to remove Cllr King of his role came after independent investigators of a report claimed allegations made by Cllr King regarding the local Child and Family Assessment Team (CAFAT) had no ‘credible evidence to support them’.
At the time Council Leader Neil Rogers explained his reasoning as: “I have considered the recent media reports in relation to the Child and Family Assessment Team here in Wrexham.
“I am concerned that these allegations are having a negative impact on our staff.”
Cllr Rogers added that he would take over the finance brief in the interim period and speak to other lead members and discuss the other aspects of Cllr King’s brief.
Councillor King has since responded in a lengthy statement to Wrexham.com, copied below, saying he has no regrets over the course of action he has taken and claims the contents of the report have been misrepresented.
The report is not yet in the public domain, and Mr King notes that it was paid for by Wrexham Council.
Councillor King said: “The story so far is that Councillor Rogers has removed my portfolio as Lead Member for Policy, Finance, Performance and Governance as a result of me raising concerns on behalf of social workers that Wrexham’s Child Protection Team was dangerously overstretched.
“Having played a leading role in raising concerns about child protection for nearly 25 years, including leading the campaign for the Judicial Inquiry into institutional child abuse in North Wales, I have frequently been attacked for doing so by all sorts of people with their own vested interests.
“This latest episode therefore comes as no surprise. Attacking whistleblowers is nothing new. Indeed, it has recently become apparent that trying to silence people who raised concerns, played an important part in covering up the actions of perpetrators like Jimmy Saville and Rolf Harris for several decades.
“Having supported numerous whistle blowers over the last 25 years, I know that all looked long and hard before coming forward and were fearful of being punished in some way.
“Most suffered considerably as a result, as did their families. Tragically some died.”
Cllr King went on to add: “The ‘independent’ report paid for by the Council, attacks the whistle blowing social workers as lacking integrity, which is utterly despicable. This is also particularly alarming as the Council’s Whistle Blowing Policy promises to protect individuals who come forward with concerns. Similar promises are also made in the Council’s Complaints Policy.
“It is hard to see how any future whistle blowers or complainants will have any faith in the Council’s promises. This situation is now extremely worrying as one of the most important elements of keeping children safe is to encourage people with concerns to come forward.
“Although my report, representing the concerns of the social workers currently remains confidential, I would like to make it very clear that this report does not criticise any other social workers in the Child Protection Team and is being misrepresented in the public domain.
“The report predominantly raises concerns about issues such as large case loads, too many inexperienced or temporary staff, high staff turnover and lack of support for the social workers in the team.
“The main issue here is to look at how resources can best be allocated to protect the most vulnerable children in our community, given the pressure on the Council to make more and more drastic cuts. For this to happen it is vitally important for councillors to be given accurate information in the future so that children can be kept safe.
“As far as my own position is concerned I am absolutely certain that it was right to raise these concerns as any decent councillor would have done.”